'Behind the scenes' at Amsterdam Chemistry Innovation Day

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Company visit Albemarle, Behind the Scenes Amsterdam

Last Friday 19 October, the University of Amsterdam's Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), ILCA and the Port of Amsterdam hosted the annual Amsterdam Chemistry Innovation Day (ACID). The Royal Association of the Dutch Chemical Industry VNCI joined in with the Amsterdam edition of its series of 'Behind the scenes' events celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Click here for an impression of the day.


Central venue of the day was Science Park 904, home of HIMS. Around nine o'clock the 150 visitors assembled to visit chemistry locations in the Amsterdam area: the HIMS laboratories, fertilizer producer ICL, paint and coatings supplier PPG, catalyst company Albemarle, biobased chemicals producers Avantium and ChainCraft, and the innovation hubs Prodock and Science Park Startup Village.

Company visit Albemarle, Behind the Scenes Amsterdam             Company visit InCatT, Behind the Scenes Amsterdam

Visit of the chemical plant of Albemarle and the laboratories of InCatT at Science Park 904. Photo: VNCI, HIMS.

At noon everybody returned for lunch after which the plenary programme at Science Park 904 started with a welcome by Prof. Peter Schoenmakers, scientific director of HIMS. He was happy to have the VNCI celebrate its centenary at UvA grounds, emphasizing today's good relations between university and industry.

Next Roon van Maanen, director of Circular & Renewable Industry at the Port of Amsterdam outlined the perfect opportunities of the Amsterdam region to contribute to the establishment of a circular economy. He discussed the opportunities for CO2 and H2 in the MRA. According to Van Maanen, a lot is to be expected from the strong links between the local knowledge institutions and chemistry companies, combined with the good infrastructure for knowledge transfer and the start-up and scale-up facilities for chemistry-oriented businesses.

Chemistry towards 2050
Then VNCI director Colette Alma took the stage presenting a national perspective for chemistry towards 2050. The Netherlands can become a 'climate champion', she argued, and in this the Dutch chemical sector can play an important part. By realizing a huge reduction in its CO2 emissions but also by contributing to the sustainability of other industry sectors. This dramatic change would, however, require speeding up innovation, governmental regulation and legislation.

Presentation Jan van Maarseveen
Prof. Jan van Maarseveen (HIMS). Photo: VNCI.

Professor Jan van Maarseveen closed the plenary session with his scientific lecture on 'How to force a molecular thread through a macrocyclic ring?'. He described the efforts of his group in the synthesis of catenanes, rotaxanes and, ultimately, complex lasso peptides. Motivated not only by the scientific satisfaction of being able to produce these classes of molecules in the laboratory, but also to gain the synthetic knowledge to possibly develop them into valuable pharmaceuticals.

Succesful day
After a short break the afternoon continued with a variety of breakout sessions on subjects ranging from Circular Chemistry to the Chemistry Employee of the Future, and from Art Conservation to Scientific Storytelling. The day ended with drinks and the wrap-up by VNCI chairman Bernard Wientjes who emphasized the importance of chemistry for the sustainability of our society and the transition to a circular economy. Looking back on a successful day, Wientjes thanked the organisation and looked forward to the next 'Behind the scenes' session to be held in Terneuzen, heart of the chemistry cluster at the Southwest of the Netherlands.

For ILCA, and the Amsterdam Chemistry Platform in general, it was a successful day. The 150 visitors, coming from the chemistry industry, SMEs, universities and the government had a great opportunity to connect and exchange ideas. For example, an event will be organized to discuss SMEs' opportunities for solving climate issues in the near future.